Energy efficiency emerging as big business with investment potential
Energy efficiency is emerging as a burgeoning market with increasing investment opportunities as China pledged to accelerate the formation of a resource pricing mechanism during a recent meeting amid attempts to call for sustainably using resources while minimizing environmental impact, experts said.
"Raising prices of rare resources will spur numerous business opportunities in fields like circular economy, while making carbon emissions more costly is likely to propel more investors to turn to the new energy sector and green transition of the traditional energy sector while attracting more businesses to relevant markets," said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.
The remarks were made after China vowed to accelerate the establishment of a resource pricing mechanism that reflects the degree of resource scarcity－as well as the costs of both ecological damage and environmental pollution－at the 27th meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform on Tuesday.
"Geopolitical tensions have further accelerated the energy crisis, and remind us of the importance of energy conservation and environmental protection," said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.
One of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption is through price regulations that reflect the degree of scarcity and achieve the purpose of practicing efficient use of resources, Luo said.
China plans to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).
"China aims to price natural resources properly and systematically as there is growing volatility of commodity prices amid geopolitical tensions, and China has come to value the long-term sustainability of its resources. Otherwise, it is easy for the country to use them up too soon before their long-term value is utilized," said Wei Hanyang, a power market analyst at research firm BloombergNEF.
According to a report by the Qianzhan Industrial Research Institute, China's market for energy saving and environmental protection will continue to rise, buoyed by the country's goals to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060, as well as a series of supportive policies.
It expects the industry's output to surpass 19 trillion yuan ($2.7 trillion) by 2027.
In recent years, the industry has seen accelerated development, buoyed by the use of cutting-edge technologies in the field, such as cloud computing, the internet of things and big data, the institute added.
New products that aim to reach the stated goals have continuously come out in recent years such as smart grids, smart hydropower stations and other products that help reduce energy consumption in the process of production and operations.
There are also upgraded boilers that can recycle industrial waste heat from gases, liquid and solid materials in production processes, and use collected heat to generate power. A report by Huatai Securities said the adoption of industrial waste heat boilers can help companies generate profit, and they can recover the costs in three to five years.
Going forward, China's development of the energy saving and environmental protection industry will enter a new phase through digitalization, Qianzhan said.